Weitz Center dance studios dedicated to Mary Easter

The dance professor was instrumental in establishing Carleton’s current dance program.

Isabel Rameker '24 18 May 2022 Posted In:
Photo of Mary Easter in front of the newly dedicated Mary Easter Dance Studios
Photo: Nhi Luong ’25

On Friday, May 13, the Carleton community celebrated the renaming of the Weitz Dance Studios in honor of Rae Schupack Nathan Professor of Dance and the Performing Arts, Emerita, Mary Easter.

Semaphore Repertory Dance Company dances during the Mary Easter Dance Studio dedication ceremony
Semaphore Repertory Dance Company performed during the dedication ceremony

Easter taught at Carleton for four decades, 1968–2008, and fulfilled many roles during her time at the college. Although she grew up dancing, Easter’s first job at Carleton was as a French tutor. Soon after arriving in Northfield, she began taking Carleton dance classes and eventually went on to build Carleton’s dance program from the ground up.

Easter was also named the school’s first Rae Schupack Nathan professor of dance and the performing arts, an honor which recognizes professors who “[cultivate] student passion and talent in the performing arts.”

“This dance studio is the place where dance is realized, comes into being… It is a place sacred to the art form,” remarked Easter at Friday’s dedication ceremony. “I feel joy to imagine the dances that will be made here by future choreographers, student and professional. And joy to imagine dancers in the world that I know, recognizing that they are working in the Mary Easter Dance Studio.”

Mary Easter and members of the Semaphore Repertory Dance Company in front of the Mary Easter Dance Studios
Mary Easter and members of Semaphore

As a dance professor, Easter advised Carleton’s Black dance troupe and founded multiple groups, including Kalochoros and the Carleton Dance Ensemble. She also developed and taught Carleton’s first credited dance classes and established dance as a special major. Outside of the studio, Easter directed the African and African-American studies program, led the Diversity and Campus Climate Committee, served on various other campus committees and engaged in many other art forms, including writing and theater. 

Since her retirement in 2008, Easter continues to engage in creative work and is primarily based out of the Twin Cities.